A walkway is a necessary part of the garden. It should be both practical and functional. But it can also be attractive, enhancing the planting scheme and surrounding space.
A path affects how a garden is experienced. You can use it to map out a journey, highlight key features or showcase a certain area. The best garden path ideas combine the choice of materials, size and direction the walkway takes to create the perfect effect.
As our garden path ideas illustrate, you need not sacrifice style or interest for safety and functionality.
1 Break Up Borders with Narrow Brick Walkways
If your garden is filled with lush, colorful flower beds or borders, the wrong garden path ideas or choices can ruin your relaxed effect. One of the best garden path ideas is to lay narrow brick walkways through the borders. This compliments the relaxed colorful space you have already created.
Laying straight lines helps to add structure to informal spaces. Additionally, splitting up borders allows people to better appreciate the planting scheme from every angle. It also makes maintenance such as weeding and planting a lot easier. To further add to the effect you can include large plants and shrubs to create natural focal points.
A curving brick walkway enhances your planting scheme without ruining the effect.
2 Use Mirrors to Reflect the View
Everyone knows that placing a mirror in a room helps to make it feel bigger and make the most of natural light. But did you know that you can use mirrors outside to create the same effects?
A couple of mirrors spread around your outside space helps to enhance your sense of space, making even the smallest plot seem larger. Correctly placed mirrors can also create stunning illusions as they reflect the colorful floral beds and planters.
One of the most effective garden path ideas is to place a mirror at the top of the walkway. This blurs boundaries and creates a stunning visual impact. To add further interest, source an antique or window style mirror. Alternatively, sculptural mirrors with elegant curved edges are particularly effective.
A mirror reflects your planting scheme, creating a sense of space.
3 Metallic Tiles
Using metallic tiles is one of the best garden path ideas if you want to bring industrial-chic to your outside space. Metallic tiles provide a fresh approach to paving. Ideal in smart, sleek spaces, they can also be used in a softer, floral space to provide contrast.
A simple one color scheme is a stylish paving solution. Alternatively, using a combination of colors and textures adds contrast, enabling you to create eye-catching patterns such as chevrons.
Lining the metallic tiles with soft green foliage helps to balance the look, meaning that it isn’t too harsh. Ornamental grasses and ferns are great choices as are heathers. Muted colors compliment the patina of the tiles.
A metallic walkway is not only chic and textual, it is also a safe paving solution.
4 Soft Curves and Mixed Materials
Curving a walkway is one of the best garden path ideas if you want to create a more relaxed space. Curving walkways also help to make a space feel larger. With a little planning, you can use a curved walkway to section off areas such as the vegetable patch, and take the viewer on a floral journey.
Remember, curves naturally slow people down, encouraging them to fully engage with the space. A strategically placed curve is a great way to encourage people to fully appreciate a flower bed or specimen tree. Curves are particularly effective when used to showcase trees, particularly established specimens such as silver birches, cherry blossoms or acers.
Mixing the materials, for example combining wood and metal can create a modern feel. Other popular flooring combinations such as mulch, gravel or stone create a more natural walkway.
Brick is a durable, inexpensive option but it can become slippery in damp or shady areas. Another popular choice is wax polymer. This is a combination of decomposed granite and wax which creates a durable, attractive option for both patios and walkways.
Curving the walkway and mixing materials helps to soften the space.
5 Interplant Between Pavers
One of the best garden path ideas to enhance pavers and large stones is to interplant between them. Sleek plain pavers can look smart but may be too harsh in a floral planting scheme. To soften them and create a more relaxed feel, try interplanting with rock garden plants and low growing plants.
You can also space the pavers out to create stepping stones. Filling the gaps between the pavers with flowers and plants that provide color, scent and texture. Interplanting a walkway creates a fun, playful feel that children of all ages can enjoy.
Interplanting between pavers softens spaces and encourages pollinators.
6 Zigzag your Walkway
Following on from our curving garden path ideas, another creative option is to zigzag the walkway. Again, this allows you to showcase flowers, particular aspects of planting schemes, specimen plants or trees.
Regular changes of direction also help to slow the viewer down, enabling them to fully enjoy the experience. To further enhance the changes in direction, interlocking light and dark pavers is a great idea. This not only adds visual interest it also contrasts with the greens of the planting scheme.
Use changes of direction to create natural focal points
7 Create a Natural Route
One of the most effective garden path ideas is also one of the most simple: keep it natural.
Informal garden path ideas, such as those made from natural materials like gravel or wood chips help to preserve the natural feel of the space. Natural materials mirror the tones found in many planting schemes, for example a gravel walkway compliments a large rockery or works well with water features.
Natural materials work with planting schemes.
8 Glass Bottles
This is one of the more budget friendly garden path ideas. To create a great edging effect for your walkway, simply collect old, glass bottles. These can then be buried upside along the edges of the walkway to create a raised edge. This is a simple and cost effective way to make your walkway look smart. Like many recycling ideas it is also eco friendly.
Using materials to edge a walkway helps with general maintenance, because it keeps materials such as wood chips away from your lawn.
9 Fill the Air with Fragrance
Appealing to all the senses is the aim for many gardeners when they plot out a planting scheme. One way to achieve this is to line walkways or sections of walkways with low growing, fragrant herbs such as wild chamomile and thyme. Planting these alongside or in between slabs and pavers creates a cottage garden style look and releases masses of fragrance as you pass. Lavender is a reliable edging plant that adds both color and fragrance.
Filling your flower beds with colorful, fragrant flowers adds to the experience.
10 Create a Living Tunnel
One of the most dramatic garden path ideas is to train trees such as willow to form a natural tunnel. This provides interest as well as a naturally shady area in otherwise sunny patches. Living tunnels can also become a home for wildlife.
Not the most instant of ideas, it takes a while for the plants to become established, the effect is well worth the wait. If you can’t wait for the plants to grow, an alternative way to create a living tunnel is to purchase willow rods or whips from specialist stores. These can be planted into the grass on either side of your walkway. Then, simply, tie the tops together to form a natural arch.
Over time the willow rods graft together, creating a sturdy structure. Willow whips are best planted in fall or early winter. Green shoots appear the following spring.
While a living tunnel provides a stunning visual effect, it does require regular pruning to keep it in shape.
A willow walkway is a delight for both nature lovers and wildlife.
Cobbles are one of the best garden path ideas if you want to introduce warmth or charm to a space. Visually softer than pavers, cobbles provide a firm, stable walkway.
After a few years, moss and lichen start to grow over the cobble edges, adding character and color. While this adds further color, it can also become slippers. Washing the cobbles with a pressure washer helps to keep the walkway safe.
Instead of buying new materials, architectural salvage yards are a great source of old materials that are more than suitable. Aged cobbles come ready packed with character and interest.
Before you start to lay your walkway, think about how to use your found materials. For example, changing the types or colors of the cobbles as you pass from one area to another helps to zone the space or create natural stopping points.
Cobbled walkways are packed with character.
12 Raised the Walkway
A raised walkway is one of the best garden path ideas if you have a foliage rich, jungle-like space. Here, slick elevated deck boards lift the viewer, allowing them to feel as if they are floating amongst the plants.
One of the more popular garden path ideas is to set the boardwalk at angles or regularly change the height level, this helps to add drama and intrigue. When creating a boardwalk, consider the materials that you are using. While paler colors blend into the space, rich red tones stand out against green planting schemes.
A raised walkway is also a functional choice. Safe to use and walk on, it allows people of all ages and abilities to interact with an outside space.
A raised boardwalk enables people to safely enjoy a densely planted outside area.
13 Light the Way
Outdoor lighting is one of the most reliable garden path ideas for people wanting to make their outside space accessible during the evening and night. Solar lights like GIGALUMI Outdoor Solar Lights are a great way to light a walkway, adding drama to any form of walkway. They also make the space safer without impacting your energy bill.
An increasingly popular decorative choice for an outdoor space, lights come in a range of shapes and sizes from tall, slender lights ideal for patios to small spotlights which can be concealed to illuminate only the walkway.
Solar lights illuminate walkways, making them safe to use as darkness falls.
14 Stepping Stones
Stepping stones are one of the best garden path ideas if you want to add a little fun to your outdoor space. While pavers are more durable, cut up logs are a more natural choice.
A great choice in a secret or fairy garden, wooden log stepping stones are also a great way to recycle an unwanted tree. Simply cut it up and position in the ground, winding them through your shrubs and ornamental grasses. After cutting up your soft timber logs, treating them with a preservative extends their lifespan to around 15 years
Stepping stones are one of the easiest garden path ideas to install. Logs or pavers can simply be placed on gravel or bark chipping beds. Just make sure that they are not too far apart.
Adding a sense of fun, stepping stones are one of the easiest to install garden path ideas.
A gravel walkway is one of the easiest garden path ideas to create. Simply lay down a membrane and cover with gravel.
Many people choose a natural gray or dark gravel which blends into their planting scheme. However you can also change it up a little bit. A colorful walkway can help to create a cool, romantic or even contemporary feel. A white gravel walkway creates an ethereal effect as it winds its way between flower beds and shrubby borders. Alternatively, a blue gravel path can create the illusion of a stream.
Pea gravel is a popular, low maintenance choice.
16 Combine Materials
Combining materials is a great way to indicate a change in area, for example transitioning from a floral flower bed to a more relaxed herb growing area. It can also be used to highlight seating areas or focal points.
Pebbles and pavers are a reliable combination as are pavers and wood chips. If you have a straight or simple walkway, playing with the materials is a great way to elevate it and create interest or bold patterns.
Combining materials is also a good way to soothe harsher materials, balancing out the walkway. For example, smooth, black granite planks with crisp edges may be too harsh in a floral space. Combining with white pebbles soothes the look.
Combining materials helps walkways to blend into the planting scheme.
17 A Boardwalk
A boardwalk, particularly one made from composite decking is easy to both install and maintain. Correctly installed a wooden walkway provides a safe and sturdy walkway which opens up the outside space to people of all ages and abilities. Depending on the material you use, the boardwalk can either blend into an established planting scheme or be made to stand out, giving it a more contemporary feel.
For a particularly low maintenance boardwalk, composite decking is one of the most popular garden path ideas. This is a durable material which is made from a mixture of recycled plastics and wood fibers. Composite decking has the texture and grain of natural timber but is more resistant to slippery moss and algae.
A boardwalk enables you to safely walk through densely packed flower beds.
18 Mow a Path
Most garden path ideas are, at the very least, semi-permanent solutions. If you want something more spontaneous and environmentally friendly why not try mowing a path through your lawn?
Simply allow the grass to grow long, or cultivate a wildflower meadow, and then mow a path. This can either be a straight line down the middle of the lawn or a winding walkway leading the viewer through the area. If you don’t like the route your walkway takes, simply let it grow over and recut a different line. Just remember to check your chosen route is free of wildlife before you start mowing.
Popular with children of all ages, mowing a path through long grass is one of the most environmentally friendly garden path ideas.
19 Use Tiles to Create a Lavish Pattern
One of the more elegant garden path ideas is to use mosaic or Victorian style tiles to create a short walkway to a front door, patio or secluded seating area. Colorful tiles or those with diagonal patterns can be particularly effective. Edging your tiled walkway with border tiles further adds to the formal effect. If you find it provides too harsh an effect, rope edging or LED lights can soften the effect.
Tiles are an elegant option.
20 Reclaim and Upcycle
Using recycled materials is one of the most eco-friendly garden path ideas. As well as preventing perfectly usable materials from going into the landfill, this idea also enables you to embrace your creative side and create a unique walkway tailor made to suit your space. Don’t be afraid to combine materials such as cobbles, pavers, flagstones and bricks.
21 Cross your Pond
If you have installed a pond, why not add a bridge or crossing across the top? A traditional bridge is great for a Japanese style space. You can also add a stepping stone walkway, if you want to add a little adventure. Bridging a pond enables you to fully enjoy the sensory benefits that a water feature and pond plants provide.
However you choose to do it, remember to keep your water crossing clean. Wet conditions, especially in winter, can cause algae to form making the walkway slippery.
Placing a walkway across a pond enables you to fully interact with it.
22 Broken Edges
It can be difficult to combine plants and paving, particularly low growing plants in informal borders. If your walkway is full of straight cut edges it can look too harsh and formal, clashing with your carefully curated soft planting scheme. Allowing the plants to spill over hiding the edges can look messy.
In this case, one of the best garden path ideas is to lay the stones on the diagonal, deliberately staggering the edges. This jagged arrangement allows your plants to spill over the edge of a border without blurring the sharp lines. Done correctly, breaking up the edges of your walkway allows it to combine with your flower beds to create a relaxed but elegant look.
Breaking up the edges of your walkway enables it to blend seamlessly with flower beds.
23 Logs Provide an Informal Feel
Laidback logs provide a natural looking, low maintenance way to access a kitchen garden or allotment. It is also one of the best garden path ideas if you are on a budget. All you need is an old tree or trees.
Combining different sizes and types of wood helps to create a laid-back, informal or warm feeling. You can either space the logs out to create a walkway, or pack them closely together, allowing plants to grow in the gaps. Logs are also one of the best garden path ideas if you want to provide access to vegetable and herb beds.
24 Add an Archway
A floral arch is one of the more popular garden path ideas for people aiming to elevate a section of walkway or garden. Climbing plants such as wisteria or roses add floral interest, color and fragrance when trained over pergolas or arbors such as a GO Steel Arch. Honeysuckle is another fragrant and colorful choice. Positioning an arch at the end of the walkway or over a seating space further enhances the effect.
An arch adds a focal or end point.
25 Line with Color
Planting a sea of color around the walkway, en masse is one of the most effective ideas adding to the viewers sensory experience. Many colorful, fragrant plants like coneflowers and nasturtium are also popular with pollinators. Lining your walkway with pollinator friendly flowers helps to make the space seem alive.
Don’t be afraid to combine the plants in your planting scheme. As well as mixing up varieties, plant flowers that emerge at different times. For example, combining spring bulbs such as tulips and daffodils with summer flowering plants creates ever changing long lasting interest. Ornamental grasses can also be used to add texture as well as color. Many such as miscanthus Indian Summer are popular for their soft feather tops.
Line your walkway with colorful flowers.
26 Timber Sleepers
Robust and industrial, timber sleepers are a charming addition to most planting schemes. Great when planted into the ground and combined with gravel, you can also mix up sizes and lengths, staggering the joints to create an interesting pathway.
Varying the width of the walkway and creating sweeps or curves helps to add movement to the outside space. This sense of movement can be further enhanced by planting taller plants and ornamental grasses that move in the wind.
Sleepers are a versatile option.
27 Change It Up
Changing the direction of the walkway, which materials are used and introducing different heights adds lots of interest. If you want to stick to one material, composite decking, such as Annurssy Interlocking Deck Tiles, is one of the best garden path ideas. Easy to install, adding LED lights highlight the change in direction and height adding further drama.
Before you begin, plant out the route carefully. Unlike other garden path ideas, this requires lots of planning, to make sure the boards join neatly and are well supported where necessary. You also need to cover the edges with matching fascia boards to hide the supporting joists.
Mixing up heights and materials adds interest.
28 Add Intricate Style with Bricks
Handcrafted bricks and brick pavers add beauty, warmth and texture to a space. Baked clay bricks, once used in kitchen gardens, add a sense of heritage. They can be used in a range of patterns such as herringbone or basket weave to add further interest.
Brick walkways are elegant, durable solutions.
29 Frame the Walkway
Adding height is one of the best garden path ideas if you want to frame the walkway or space.
Clipped hedges, boxwood shrubs, topiary obelisks, trees or statues can all increase the viewer’s sense of perspective, stretching the view ahead, making the garden path seem longer. Lining a walkway with herbaceous borders adds color and interest as well as stretching your outside space.
Topiary and box hedging is a great choice to line a walkway.
30 Weave Natural Stone Through your Space
A great way to smoothly link different areas, positioning a seating area or summer house at the end of the walkway, which can be glimpsed through the greenery adds intrigue and interest, encouraging people to continue on their journey.
Stones work with the plants to create a pleasing effect.
A sturdy stylish walkway is a great way to take people on a journey around an outside space or lead them to an outdoor living area. The best garden path ideas enhance the space, encouraging people to appreciate and interact with the great outdoors.
Jen is a master gardener, interior designer and home improvement expert. She has completed many home improvement, decor and remodeling projects with her family over the past 10 years on their 4,500 sf Victorian house. She is also a passionate farmer who keeps goats, chickens, turkeys cows and pigs on her farm, and an instructor for her community’s Organic and Sustainable Farming project.